Brazil and Neighbors Request US$ 100 Million Loan for Foot and Mouth Disease

Southern Cone countries have requested US$ 100 million from the Interamerican Development Bank, IDB, to combat foot and mouth disease, announced Brazilian Agriculture minister Roberto Rodrigues.

The request was done during a meeting Monday in Brazilian capital Brasí­lia of the Southern Agriculture Council. which is made up of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay.

The idea is that the credit be disbursed in a three-year period, although the final figure is not certain.

"Naturally you ask for more to see what effectively you are awarded", said Mr. Rodrigues.

Brazil the world’s leading exporter of beef (US$ 3.15 billion in 2005) is trying to eradicate FAM, which last October re-emerged in the southern states of Mato Grosso do Sul and Paraná. Over 50 countries have since imposed partial and total ban on Brazilian beef imports.

Mr. Rodrigues outlined the significance of a joint approach to FAM and a potential outbreak of avian flu, which threaten the meat and poultry industries respectively.

In related news, Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva announced further support measures for the farming sector to as "to bring relief for the next two years".

"We’re currently discussing details of the package, which should help Brazilian agriculture get through 2006 and 2007 with not many surprises", said President Lula during his Monday broadcast.

Last week, President Lula announced a fund equivalent to US$ 7  billion to grant credits and help reschedule debts of small farmers (50 to 100 hectares).

The Brazilian Agriculture Ministry said that the aid promised should help reduce the impact of a strong Brazilian currency (against the US dollar) and smaller crops because of adverse climatic conditions.

So far this year the real has appreciated 9% against the green back, following a similar strengthening in 2005 of 14.5%.

However the Agriculture Ministry also announced that good payers will be "respectfully" rewarded since "some farmers in this country, historically, have borrowed money and never pay back".

Mercopress – www.mercopress.com

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